Geri Laufer introduces us to Atlanta Botanical
Garden (ABG). ABG is a
small garden about 3 miles from the center of Atlanta. It
has 15 acres
of cultivated gardens that include The Rose Garden, Japanese
Herb Garden and many flower borders. It also has a 2 acre
Garden with interactive exhibits. In addition one will find
15 acres of
woodland and the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Orchid Center. ABG
has many excellent horticulturists on staff, several will
show us around.
Tom Harvey is the grounds superintendent and passionate
Hydrangeas. Tom feels they are wonderful in the south, we
practically the whole range here. The one everyone is most
is the French Hydrangea, it goes by a lot of names and comes
in a lot of
different colors. The one we inspect today is blue but it
can be found
in pink almost to a red. They're the same genus, Hydrangea,
this one is
Macrophylla, sometimes called Big Leaf Hydrangea. Another
Annabelle Hydrangea, Arborescens, its' blooms started a
cream color but have turned green. It blooms in the early
spring, spring to early
summer, photosynthesizes and turns green. This change provides
a lot of interest throughout the year, they change and stay
on the plant for a
long time. Hydrangea Serrata is a Preziosa and is also shown.
Leaf Hydrangea has a large bloom, its' name is Hydrangea
Snowflake. The flower blossom can range from 12-15 inches
long. It has
double blossoms which means it has layers of petals, the
stacked. It is a woodlands plant, a full shade plant particularly
shade from the afternoon sun. Since it has such bold flowers
leaves it stands out from 50 to 100 feet away. The plant
everyone has in their yards is Hydrangea Paniculata, Grandifloria.
The size of the
blooms is dependent on whether they are cut back or not.
If the plant
isn't cut back it will produce smaller but more blossoms.
Another one of
the Paniculatas is called Limelight, the foliage is sort
of a lime color
and is fragrant. It is a clearer white and tolerates full
Hydrangea, Hydrangea Sargentianna, has a lace top with small
around it. The plant grows to 7 or 8 feet tall, in in about
2 or 3 years
time. The leaves are fuzzy and when mature the trunk begins
exfoliate. At the back of a border it will stand out, it
and will not grow above zone 6. Tom's tips include putting
Hydrangeas in the ground and leaving them alone for about
2 years. Let them grow,
don't prune them- careful neglect is his suggestion. They
can take a
wide array of soils and don't need a lot of soil prep, prepare
and amend it or dig a hole, put them in, add a little fertilizer
spring and usually once during the growing season, ideally
finished blooming. It is difficult to change the color dramatically,
is the determining factor, but cultivars have the most effect.
So if you
want a pink variety, buy a pink variety.
Carol Helton is the Conservation Coordinator and shows
Plants. They're popular plants, different and attractive.
feed on insects to make up for the nutrient poor conditions
grow in the wild. Typically they grow in acidic, nutrient
habitats. The White Cup Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia Leucophylla,
hybrid between The Hooded Pitcher Plant and Yellow Trumpet,
Sarracenia Flava. She shows us a Parrot Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia
Psittacina, it gets its' name from the little bulbous head
at the end of the pitcher, and The Purple Pitcher Plant,
Sarracenia Purpurea. To trap their prey these plants have
a passive trapping mechanism, they don't have moving parts
but do have morphological characteristics. These attract,
then trap insects. They might have nectaries, sweet smelling
areas, around the lip of the pitcher. This would attract
insects, they come and feed, then fall into the pitcher
and get consumed. It also has windows on the pitcher itself,
which attracts insects, they think they're on the outside
when they hit the pitcher and fall in. The plants have downward
flanking hairs on the inside of the pitcher and these keep
the insects from crawling back up. The plants also secrete
enzymes which help break down the insects body parts as
well as wetting agents which make the insect sink down into
the water trapped by the pitcher. Carol slices a plant open
to show trapped insects. We see the hairs that keep insects
down the pitcher and plenty of moisture to drown them as
To create a bog like environment that these plants would
like you need
more than just poor, sandy, peat soil and full sun. At ABG
they create a
bog. They dig a hole about 16-18 inches deep, use a pond
liner then put
in the soil. The soils used are a 6-8 inch layer of sand
on the bottom,
then fill the rest of the hole with with a peat and sand
Carol shows us a Venus Fly Trap. they have an active trapping
mechanism as opposed to passive on the earlier plants. They
have trigger hairs on the surface of the leaves that, when
an insect crawls across the leaf and touches those hairs,
cause the leaf to close.
ABG works with federal, state and other conservation organizations
restore habitats and save these species from extinction.
seeds, grow the plants, plant them into native populations
intent of increasing the size and health of populations
of these plants.
Kathryn Moomaw shows us some of her favorite perennial
plants. For a
perennial to be on her list it must meet several requirements.
look good for a longer period of time, about 6 months, and
require only a minimum of care. Arkansas Blue Star, Amsonia
is such a plant. It requires very little care, is a native,
it grows to
about three and one half feet tall. In her garden she is
space thus cuts hers back after it has bloomed - about mid-May
- so hers tops out about two and one half feet tall. It
has a nice round shape and it provides a nice wind or grassy
effect. Its' fine texture means it goes with a lot of plants
in the garden, you might see it next to a Hosta. It has
a nice two-color green foliage and it doesn't discolor.
It has very few disease problems, none that she knows about.
In the early spring it has pale blue flowers, in the spring
bright blue, then very
small flowers and good looking foliage in the summer. In
the fall it
puts on its' show, it turns a beautiful golden yellow color,
back to the ground.
Another of Kathryn's favorites is Japanese Aster, some
call it Astermoea
or Kalimeris. It blooms a long time, the foliage is very
fine and it
integrates very well in the border with many plants. It
does well in
full sun or shade. It's low maintenance, doesn't require
although at ABG after it blooms they cut it back and they
get a second,
possibly even a third flush of growth. It blooms in the
summer then into
the fall. It's a carefree plant, pretty, yet blooms a lot
of the year
and very easy to care for.
Begonia Grandis, Hardy Begonia, is another favorite. It's
is late to emerge in the spring, it then grows to about
3 feet tall. It
has beautiful pink blooms at the very top of the plant.
In addition to
the flowers it has venation underneath the leaf. It is not
a true green,
more of an olive green. It likes it a little moist, so make
sure it has
enough water. It will run in your garden, but it is easy
to pull the
seedlings out. It looks good all summer long, especially
in the heat
when one wouldn't expect to see a big, beautiful tropical,
It doesn't have bug problems or diseases, doesn't need deadheading.
It's a carefree plant, Begonia Grandis, Hardy Begonia.
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